Iranian; Attributed to Kashan, Iran
Pile weave, silk pile on silk foundation, 508 asymmetrical knots per square inch; W. 70 1/16 in. (178 cm), L. 94 7/8 in. (241 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.721)
This silk rug demonstrates the part played by the miniaturist in designing rug cartoons. Neither the symmetry usually associated with carpet designs nor the repeat patterns of textiles is evident here. Animals, including fantastic beasts of Chinese origin, arranged singly or in groups, are pictorially laid out in a landscape of flowering plants. As in most Persian carpets, the animals are engaged in combatpossibly evoking the underlying symbolism of a cosmological order dating back to pre-Islamic times, as well as referring to the hunt, a symbol of royal power.